Logano wins pole in Phoenix
Joey Logano launched his way to the top of the heap in Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Friday at Phoenix Raceway, claiming the first starting spot for Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event.
Logano drove the Team Penske No. 22 Ford to a best lap of 137.321 mph in the last of three rounds of qualifying on the 1-mile track. The pole award was Logano's first of the season, first at the Arizona oval and the 18th of his Monster Energy Series career. Logano is the most recent winner at the 1-mile track, prevailing in the desert last November.
"I didn't think it was going to be quite good enough, but I pushed as hard as I could," Logano told FOX Sports after his fast final lap. "Sometimes you overdrive it a little bit and you still make speed, so proud of this team and proud of this Ford front row. That's a pretty special deal, so excited for the race now."
Ryan Blaney will share the front row for Sunday's Camping World 500 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the second event in the three-race NASCAR Goes West swing. He powered the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford to the second-fastest lap of the final qualifying session at 136.877 mph.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start third in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet after a lap of 136.783 mph. Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kyle Larson (136.654 mph) and Jamie McMurray (136.302 mph) completed the top five, respectively.
Kyle Busch, who won the pole for Phoenix's March date last year, landed the ninth-fastest lap in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota.
Kevin Harvick, the defending race winner with eight Phoenix victories in his career, was just 23rd-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford. Martin Truex Jr., last week's winner at Las Vegas, was 16th-fastest in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota. Both drivers were unable to make the 12-driver cut for the final round of qualifying.
A pair of practice sessions are on tap for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on Saturday, the final prep for Sunday's 312-mile main event.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 3rd
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BANK CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 4th
“I’m happy with fourth, but I felt like I ran a bad lap. I think if I could have anticipated what I was going to have a little bit better that final round maybe we would have had a shot. It would have been close, but all-in-all it was a solid qualifying effort for us. Qualifying well is really nice for how these stages work out, so you’ve just got to continue to do that and work on our car for race trim tomorrow. I’m sure the track will change quite a bit and just got to stay on top of it.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 CESSNA CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 5th
ON THE START TO THE WEEKEND AND HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT:
YOU MENTIONED THE STAGES, NOW THAT YOU ARE FOUR RACES INTO THIS, HOW CRITICAL DO YOU THINK THOSE ARE GOING TO BE WHEN WE GET TO RICHMOND?
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 7th
YOU WERE THE FASTEST IN PRACTICE. DID THE TRACK CHANGE OR DID YOU JUST LOSE A BIT OF THE HANDLING IN THE CAR?
“I really don’t think the track changed a whole lot. I felt pretty good about our balance throughout those three rounds. I feel like I lost some time in (Turns) 1 and 2; so, I’m curious to see what I did, if anything, to do that. I’ll go back and look at it. But Sunday is the important day and hopefully we can get it dialed-in for that.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 14th
ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT:
“Nothing too bad happened. I obviously wish we could have made the final round, but I think we are just a little adjustment off from where we needed to be there. Qualifying is not my sweet spot and I can’t wait to go racing. So, we will take it.”
ERIK JONES, No. 77 5-hour Energy Extra Strength Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
Starting Position: 8th
How did your qualifying run go today?
“We came a long ways from the first round. I really didn’t think we had a great car here in the first round. I wasn’t too sure after practice, but the 5-hour Energy Camry ended up being really close to what I needed in the last round. Looking back on it, knowing what the pole was, I think there was a few things that we probably could’ve done to be a little better, that would’ve gave us a good shot at it. Good qualifying effort nonetheless. Good to make it to the third round again here and in a getting starting spot.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 9th
What kind of car do you have and what kind of changes did you have to make to qualify top 10?
“Everything’s great. I’m back at the race track and I’m in my race car. So that’s why everything is great. You have the opportunity to have something else happen during the week and it didn’t. So it’s good to be back at the track and here in Phoenix. West Coast swing. Loving the time out here. Our Skittles Camry was just a little off today. Not bad. I feel like there’s some moments there that we can work on and get a little bit better and get it to where we need it for race trim obviously. Qualifying trim we were the top JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) car I guess. I think (Erik) Jones beat us out. We still kind of call them the Toyota guys so he beat us out there a little bit there. He’s in eighth. But overall a good run, a strong run for us here today. Glad to make it to the final round. It wasn’t looking pretty for us there for a minute. All in all just looking forward to being able to get a good run, get a good solid run here. We haven’t had one yet this year. We need one. And just get our rhythm going.”
Is the car driving any differently than you’re used to with the new package?
“A little bit, yeah. It’s driving a little bit differently. We try to work on some of the tendencies that our car didn’t do well here the last time. And we fared well. (Matt) Kenseth was fast. And unfortunately I crashed out late, but we finished second. We just wanted to get ourselves a little bit better than that. We knew that the Hendrick cars were definitely better than us here last time so we’re trying to chase those animals. Hopefully we can get there. We’ll know here a little bit more tomorrow.”
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Tide Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 12th
Talk about your qualifying effort.
“We’re happy we got to the last round. It seemed like we were pretty good on used tires today. We just kind of missed a little bit that last round. We were decent. We were just off a little bit from the best cars. Wanted to be a little better than 12th. Thought we may be fifth or sixth after the first couple of rounds. We just kind of got off a little bit.”
DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 27th
What sort of challenges is this team going to face starting 27th on Sunday?
“I feel like definitely we won’t have a good pit selection, but overall we have to work better for tomorrow. I hope we can find some better speed for the long run. I knew that my qualifying run with this car wasn’t great, but I was expecting a little bit more than 27th. Anyway, that’s part of it. We’ll get better for tomorrow.”
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